Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Respect, control and grade inflation

From The Telegraph:
"Traditional teachers’ titles such as “Sir” and “Miss” should be consigned to history because they discriminate against women, according to academics.
Pupils should be encouraged to use teachers’ first names to bring schools up-to-date and ensure children are not exposed “to the prejudices of the previous generation”, it was claimed." [here]
- yet another example of the confusion in many contemporary minds between undue deference and necessary respect. Calling teachers by their first names will, of course, help hugely with classroom discipline and with instilling in pupils (or is is now 'students') the kind of academic work ethic which will serve them well in later life .

Christina Odone, here, however, goes on from this (non) story to speak of a growing trend, which many of us have observed in hospitals and nursing homes, to call elderly patients by their Christian names, seemingly whether they like it or not. 
However, what can seem friendly and rather reassuring to some, may appear to other vulnerable patients to be undermining what little dignity and autonomy they have left to them; informality can so easily morph into a casual and patronising lack of respect and, as we know, something far worse. 
In a culture which, strangely, as the general population ages, increasingly fails to value the experience, wisdom and identity of the elderly, this is a worrying development.

And, as for the comment, reported elsewhere, by a teacher that she would much prefer to be called 'Professor' than the supposedly patriarchal 'Miss' - well, apart from the somewhat inflationary use of titles, a phenomenon not unknown in the modern, informal and inclusive Church,  isn't it a bit .... well ... Harry Potter...?

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